• World - Africa
  • Updated: April 13, 2023

Ethiopia: Calm Returns After Days Of Protests

Ethiopia: Calm Returns After Days Of Protests

Calm Returns To Residence After Days Of Protests In Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government's decision to disband local "special" military units in the Amhara region has brought calm to the main towns and cities of the region, residents said on Thursday, after several days of unrest.

"It's quiet today. Banks have opened, and stores are beginning to open.

"Transport resumed yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon," an anonymous resident of Bahir Dar, Amhara's administrative capital, told AFP on Thursday.

"Nothing is happening today, everything is quiet," said a resident in Debre Birhan, one of the region's main cities, in a message to AFP on Thursday.

Gondar, Amhara's former imperial capital and the most populous city had also found peace on the eve of Good Friday, then Fassika Sunday, the Orthodox Easter, the ultra-majority religion in Amhara.

Dessie and Woldiya were also calm, according to an Ethiopian journalist who contacted relatives on the spot.

The situation is difficult to assess in Amhara, which is closed to the press "for security reasons" and where communication is difficult.

For the past week, these five towns, among others, have seen protests, road blockades, and sometimes armed clashes between the federal military and members of the Amhara "special forces" or the local Fano "self-defence" militia.

The unrest was sparked by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's federal government's decision to "reassign" members of the regional "special forces" - military units illegally established by several of the 11 federal states for the past 15 years - to the federal army or the police.

Night-time traffic restrictions are imposed by local "command posts" in five towns in the region: Gondar, Dessie, Debre Berhan, Woldiya, and Kombolcha.

The death toll is unknown, but the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), an independent statutory public institution, reported on Wednesday evening that "civilians were killed and injured as a result of security forces action or attacks by unidentified persons."

The EHRC urged "relevant authorities" to "resolve the issue through dialogue and consensus."

On Sunday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated that the process would be completed "whatever the cost" and that "special forces" from all regions would be involved.

According to Amhara nationalists, the government's goal is to disarm only Amhara special forces to weaken the region, which has territorial disputes with neighbouring Tigray and Oromia.

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